Plans for a ground-breaking new £65m centre for children and young people’s mental health have been launched this week.

The Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People will bring together, under one roof, the world’s leading experts in clinical care and research from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) and King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN). These two organisations already have a long history of working together. Building on this foundation, they wish to create an exceptional centre of care for young people with a focus on the potential of research to identify mental health difficulties early and transform the treatment and care of children and young people in the UK and across the globe.

The challenge of improving young people’s mental health is at a pivotal moment. Today, 1 in 8 children and adolescents are estimated to have a mental health disorder and 50 per cent of adult mental health problems begin before the age of 15.

The ambition is for the new centre to become a national beacon of excellence that will help to transform lives and be the home of world-class research.

Based in London, at the Maudsley Hospital in Denmark Hill, the building will house the Institute for Children and Young People’s Mental Health at King’s College London and the Maudsley and provide space for high-quality mental health care. It will be designed to enable clinicians and scientists to collaborate, share ideas and identify treatments that make a real difference to the lives of children, young people and their families.

Teams and individuals from these two world-leading organisations will come together to undertake ground-breaking research to better understand the causes of mental health difficulties, with the aim of halving the time it takes to bring children and families new treatments to help deal with the issues they face.

The initial focus will be on mothers and babies, child trauma, self-harm, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), autism, anxiety, depression and digital technologies. Both organisations will ensure the findings of their research have a long-term impact through education, policy change and public engagement.

David Bradley, Chief Executive of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust said:

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to transform mental health care and research for children and young people in the UK and beyond. We are excited by the possibilities that the new centre can bring in supporting our children and young people and making those breakthroughs in research that will help us to deliver world-class care and treatment. We are proud that young people have been at the heart of designing the new Centre to ensure that we create the best possible environment for them.”

Professor Ian Everall, Executive Dean of King’s IoPPN, said:

“Difficulties in childhood have an effect on adult life so it’s really important to intervene early. The centre will provide an ideal home for our team of clinicians and researchers so they can really make an impact on the lives of children and young people into adulthood. Our new building is cleverly designed to encourage connections and collaborations which will speed up the time from research to clinical care.

The building will also provide a new home for the outstanding Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School which provides highly personalised education for young people whilst they are inpatients, making sure that they can keep up with their studies at this challenging time in their lives.

The establishment of the Institute and the creation of the Centre which will be its home is made possible through the generous support of philanthropic foundations and individuals who want to improve the mental health of future generations.

The Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People will be funded by a combination of investments from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London, large donations and a public fundraising campaign which is being launched later this year.

In addition to an initial £10m grant from the Maudsley Charity, two family foundations, known for their outstanding commitment to improving the lives of young people, have made very significant pledges. The Rayne Foundation made a catalyst gift to the campaign in October 2019, committing a significant sum to the building and have an interest in additional research funding. We can now announce that in January 2020, The Pears Foundation has committed a lead gift of £5.5m to the project. The Centre will be named in recognition of the Pears Foundation and our ongoing partnership with the Pears family.

To date over £18m of philanthropic gifts have been committed in principle and a major fundraising effort is ongoing to ensure that the Centre can create an inspiring and appropriate environment for the families and staff who will use the building and fund a wide programme of research, education outreach and clinical innovation over future years.

Members of the public can find out more about the plans and the designs of the new centre at drop-in sessions taking place on 13 February, from 4pm-8pm, 14 February 2pm-5pm and 15 February, 10.30am-2pm, at the ORTUS Conferencing and Events Venue, 82-96 Grove Lane, Camberwell, London, SE5 8SN.

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